Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography

Lesson 10/60 - Gauging Light & Exposure On-Location


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography


Lesson Info

Gauging Light & Exposure On-Location

Right now we have the computer set up. I like to shoot tethered whenever I'm shooting models on location, so I just have a laptop here with capture one loaded up. And I'm just shooting tethered so that I'm seeing the images as they show up on the computer screen, not on the back of the camera screen. 'Cause the camera screen is so small, it's so tiny, I kind of will sometimes miss details. So I'll think I've got this great shot, but then maybe there's an eyelash doing funny things, and I can't see that on the back of the screen. So first thing what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna take, I've got a 16 to 35 mil lens here, and I'm shooting with Canon 5D Mark II, and I'm just going to take a portrait of her, well just a shot of the scene itself, and I'm gonna make sure that my background is slightly overexposed. I'm gonna expose for how I want the background to disappear, basically. She's gonna be a little bit dark, and that's okay, 'cause we're gonna fill this in with flash. But the reason why ...

I'm overexposing my background is so it's easier to cut out. She has nice dark hair, if we have a nice bright background, then the extraction process is gonna be a lot simpler. So I'm just gonna hold this here, one, two, three. And there we go. So I can see here on the back of my screen that the background is nice and light, it's a little bit too bright, and that's totally okay, because then we can fill this in with flash, and we'll get a proper exposure. I'm keeping her in her jacket right now, because there's no point in freezing her out, 'cause it is a little bit chilly out here, but once we get to the shooting part, then I'll get somebody to come along, we'll take her jacket off, and then we'll start posing. And then if we're taking a break, we're gonna get her nice and warm again, and then we'll continue on. So, on my laptop screen, the background was a little overexposed. Downside of shooting with a laptop is you can control the color, but you can't always adjust the contrast on a laptop screen. So on my screen, it looked overexposed, on this TV, it actually looks almost properly exposed, it's overexposed in some spots, but it's not as bright as it looked on my screen. So that just meant that in post-production, once I got into Photoshop and I looked at it, I was like, ah, crap! So then I just adjusted it, but we'll go through all of that later. But in other cases, once again, going forward, so when we were picking the model for this, I was like, okay, so we're gonna be shooting something outdoors, I want a model with dark hair. Because you guys don't want to sit here and watch me cut out hair for three hours, we just don't have that much time. So once again, going forward, okay, this is our limitation. Our limitation is time. So how to we make things more time-efficient? So I this case, get a model with dark hair, shoot her in a light background, the extraction process is gonna be much, much simpler. What kind of metering mode were you using on your camera, and do you use exposure a lot to try and control that really light background? Sometimes I meter, sometimes I don't. In this case, I just didn't want to carry all the gear with me, and I was like, I'm gonna shoot tethered, it's not pouring rain, I can just look at it and eyeball it, and get it, you know, 90% of the way there. So in this case, it wasn't quite as overexposed as my screen was telling me it was, but it's within an allotment that I can easily change that, and I can easily fix it. If I was getting something really specific, I mean if anyone here uses a light meter, I think they've gone the way of the dinosaur for a lot of people, because you can look at the back of your camera or computer, and see your exposure. But if you have a light meter, light meters are incredibly powerful. If you're not able to shoot to a tethered anything, and everything's bright, you can just get a light meter, meter everything, and do the math, and then you'll know what your exposure is. So, it's once again using the tools, right? So if I'm at home and I have my meter with me, then I'll totally use it. But if I don't, it's also, 90% of the time, fine. (laughing)

Class Description

With the right Photoshop know-how and studio shoot experience, you can merge fact and fiction into a reality that lives up to your imagination. Renee Robyn has made a career of turning everyday photos from her travels into eye-catching images. Robyn will teach you how to add people and other elements to your existing landscape photos using ethereal custom effects.

Join us for “Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography” and you’ll learn:

  • How to choose or set up a shoot for your background image
  • How to direct posing during a shoot, and work with directional light in studio to make your subject fit into the background image
  • How to composite your subject into your image using Photoshop

Photo compositing allows you to breathe interesting ideas into your photos. Open your hard drive, walk into your memory, and turn past experiences into fantastic new realities.


1Class Introduction 2Why You Should Sketch Your Composite 3What to Look for in Your Background 4Posing Your Model 5Communicate with Your Team 6Elements of Compositing 7Learning from Failure & Criticism 8On-Location Safety Tips 9How to Nail the Right Perspective for Your Composite Photo 10Gauging Light & Exposure On-Location 11On-Location Posing 12Cliff Shoot Location Final Thoughts 13Tips for Culling Images 14Culling Images Q&A 15Preparing Your Image for Composite 16Composite Image Cleanup 17Adding Background Image to Composite 18The Difference Between Flow & Opacity 19Composite Sky Elements 20Using Curves to Color Match 21Adding Atmospheric Depth to Image 22Using Color Efex Pro to Manipulate Color 23Using the Liquify Tool 24Color Theory & Monitor Calibration 25Adding Smoke Layer to Image 26Selective Sharpening 27Crop Your Image 28Goal Setting for Digital Artists 29Review of Location Composite 30Understand Angle & Height for Your Base Plate Image 31Base Plate Focus Point 32Base Plate Lighting Tips 33How to Use a Stand-In for Base Plate Image 34Capture On-Location Base Plate Image 35Student Positioning Demo 36Base Plate Sketching 37On-Location Sky Capture 38What to Look for in a Base Plate Model 39Building Composite Model Lighting 40Composite Model Test Shots for Angle Matching 41Composite Model Shoot: The Art of Fabric Throwing 42Composite Model Shoot: Working with Hair 43Composite Model Shoot: Posing Techniques 44Composite Test with Final Shot 45Lighting Setup Overview 46Culling Model Shoot Images 47Adjusting Skintone Colors 48Merging Background with Model 49How to Mask Hair 50Creating a Layer Mask with the Brush Tool 51Creating Shadow Layers 52Removing Visual Distractions with Stamp Tool 53Replacing Sky with Layer Mask 54Drawing Hair Strands and Atmospheric Depth 55Creating Contrast in Your Composite 56Adding Atmospheric Elements 57Using Particle Shop 58Selective Color Adjustments 59Cropping, Sharpening, & Final Touches 60Closing Thoughts


Dino Maez

i have to say, the class was AMAZING! in every way from the tricks and technique's of mastering this art form to the personalized attention given by Renee. through the class you are able to learn information that would normally take the average person years of trial and error. Renee gives you the gift of benefitting from her her experiences and what she has learned THE HARD WAY! Renee is an outstanding instructor full of passion for what she does, and with a strong desire to not only improve the art, but more importantly, pay it forward, by sharing her knowledge with others. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the event in person, truly a once in a lifetime experience for me, the staff at creative live were THE BEST! they are helpful in every way and really made this event something special, i can't say enough about the experience i had and would highly recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to go down for a class, it will be an experience that you will never forget. but the best part of creative live is that wether you are there in person or wether you are watching from the comfort of your own home, you are involved in the class in REAL TIME, you have the ear and attention of the skilled artist giving the instruction, being there myself i can tell you that Renee was regularly given questions and comments from the viewers via the creative live staff and she would respond to them as they came, in that way you are very much apart of the class you are never left without getting that personalized attention of an amazing artist or that specific question you have answered, and even better you have the option to purchase the class and have it as a constant resource in your tool kit that you can refer back to at any point that you need a refresher or want to recall that special technique that was demonstrated. thank you thank you to renee and all the staff at creative live you have a life long member in me. and i would recomend that everyone take advantage of this valuable resource dino maez

Sheldon Carvalho

Awesome class. I've been following Renee for a very long time. I love her work and to finally see her work and get an image done from start to finish was quite something.. I love the way she sees things and the way she treats her work and all fellow creative. I would recommend this to everyone interested in getting into composting. Looking forward to creating and making my own art work. But it now :) Have fun creating. :)

Tristan Wilhelm

Very good class. I enjoyed the very friendly, approachable and quirky style Renee teaches with. I did feel, as others have said that she could get off on bunny trails and tell stories and I was glad for Creative Live's option to speed up the video. But great tips and it was extremely helpful watching it how she would do it. Thank you much Renee, and also, I'm a PC user that unites with you.